What to do when life is overwhelming you

Posted by on Oct 14, 2011 in Personal Development | 13 comments


This week- scratch that- this month has been incredibly busy for me at work and home and I’m finding myself to be a bit overworked and bit overtired. What a great opportunity for me to take a look in my work-life balance toolbox and put those tools to good use!

When life gets busy, the most important thing I can do to maintain balance is take care of my basic needs. I need to get enough sleep, eat three meals a day, take a walk, stretch my body, laugh, relax and have a little fun each day. Practicing self-care keeps me healthy, focused, and better able to make good decisions in my work and my life.

It’s also important for me to let my goals guide my choices. I have limited time and lots to do! I am able to make good decisions when I let my goals and values guide my energy and effort instead of running around putting out fires and checking off unimportant to-dos.

When I’m busy I find myself getting caught up in the rush without giving purpose or value to my activities. When this happens I go back to the basics of working mindfully. When I’m not working mindfully I feel drained instead of energized as I jump from task to task. Being active, open and aware of the present moment allows me to give my best effort at whatever I am doing.

When I am working mindfully, I stop multitasking and allowing what I can accomplish one thing at a time be enough because, after all, it really is enough! We often tell ourselves we have to get more done than is truly important and necessary.

I’m better able to balance my work-life by saying no when I need to do so. Saying no appropriately allows me to follow through on my commitments, effectively manage my energy and efforts, and create clear and honest boundaries.

I love your comments! How do you balance your work-life? What is it like for you when you are overwhelmed? How can you live the life you want today instead of living life as it rushes past you?

Photo Credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


  1. Chrysta, aloha. What a terrific and always timely topic. It seems that more people spend time in overwhelm than in balance.

    Cyrsta, when I start to feel “rushed” about everything and feeling “I have to,” what I do is stop, breathe and think. Does what I am doing really matter to what I want? Does it have to be done? Just by asking myself a few questions and releasing, calm is restored.

    Like you, sleep is essential to me and I am make sure that I do sleep–no matter what else is happening.

    One of the reasons, Chrysta, I believe people become overwhelmed is because they have not identified their core values or what is important to them. If a person knows what matters to them, their values, their goals, then it is relatively easy to sort it out.

    We have to remember that the world will not end if we do not do a certain task. In most instances, whatever it is won’t even matter a week from now, much less a month from now.

    What we need to do is to keep things in perspective and stop spinning in ever decreasing circles.

    Well done, my friend. Best wishes to you for a Spectacular Sunday. Until next time, aloha. Janet

    • Janet,

      So lovely to read your comment, as always. I absolutely love your way of handling feeling overwhelmed! It is so easy to get caught up in activities that aren’t truly important to our life & well-being. I love how asking a few simple questions can turn my day from bad to great!

      I also agree many people don’t really know what they truly want in life. For years I was lost, spending most of my time just getting from day to day. I’m so grateful I’ve come to peace with the past and discovered my goals and values so I can live a great life every day!

      Thanks again for your fantastic comment! Have a grateful day!


  2. Hi Chrysta.

    I was once in a very bad situation working for a MNC which never cared about the work life balance.
    In one of the management meeting, I asked that the consultants be allowed the opportunity of spending more time outside work . Everyone agreed including my coworkers. After all they also wanted a break.
    But then unfortunately I got into a project which was 99% work 1% life in a day. Though the project was itself good , it drained a lot of energy from my life and I hated it.
    I decided to simply walk out of the company after I finished the project. This proves that even if I liked the work I was not going to spend my life 100% on it.
    It is very important to have that break and not feel overwhelmed because then it is not fun any more.
    When I feel overwhelmed, I close my PC, listen to music or read a book :).

    • Thanks for your great comment, Ashvini!

      Sometimes you absolutely have to walk away and kudos to you for first setting a boundary, and later following through by leaving the company.

      We all need rest and downtime and how much we need is different for each of us. It’s up to us to let other know what we need, and it’s up to us to make sure our needs are being met. It’s important for me to remember that I always have choices- always. If a situation is becoming harmful to me, even if I love the work or the people involved, it’s going to be in my best interest to move on, and I’ve done it.

      I agree that sometimes just logging off the computer and doing something we enjoy is essential when life gets overwhelming. Sometimes just a short break several times a day is all we really need.

      Have a grateful day!


  3. Hi Chrysta,

    When I feel overwhelmed I stop everything right there and then and tell myself “I don’t have to do anything.”

    The relief that comes from these simple words is so profound. It’s like taking a pen and drawing a line through my “To Do” list. Instantly I am free.

    Then I ask myself what it is I need most to do for myself and I do that first. Sometimes it’s as simple as going to bed at 8pm, catching up with a friend or going for a walk.

    Next I decide what the one most important thing is for me to be doing and I do that only without being concerned about anything else that needs doing.

    This process restores control to me. I feel empowered and relaxed.

    We can soothe ourselves towards a better feeing place or we can let external commitments get the better of us. We always have a choice and that’s what helps me to deal with feeling overwhelmed, remembering that I always have a choice about how to deal with the situation.


  4. Glad I’m not the only one, Chrysta! :)

    You said it, though, ‘let your goals guide your choices’. That’s every day for me. I keep setting my goals higher and higher, and because of this, I keep pushing myself further and further. Working 1- hour days, sometimes. Why? Because I like what I do.

    Sure, it can be boring at times, but the main goal is what I’m after. So I keep doing it :).

    Keep your chin up! Keep plowing forward! :)

    • I had a conversation with someone recently about work-life balance and I shared my believe that you can have balance and work 12+ hours a day- as long as you love what you do, you’re taking care of your needs and you’re pursuing your dreams. Who says balance is working as little as possible? Not me!

      Some people have families to care for and other people are single. Everyone is different, as the definition of balance for each of them!

      I’m so happy to hear you’re living your goals and doing what you want to do. Go you!


  5. I agree with you Chrysta!

    When life gets too overwhelming that’s when we need to step back and think of the bigger picture. Stop being so hard on ourselves.

    Like you, I know that it’s important for me to get my sleep because when I go too many days without my required amount, I make myself sick. Often times I have forgotten to eat but luckily for me, my stomach reminds me. I also take several breaks during the day because my dog needs to go outside. It’s also a great time for me to take a break plus we walk every evening and that’s always enjoyable. It’s a great time to reflect and relax.

    Thank you for this reminder. Kind of relates to what I was just thinking in my post too!

    Have a great day Chrysta!


    • Adrienne,

      I cannot function, concentrate or be happy when I’m sleep deprived! Sleep is a huge priority for me. Other people may have different priorities but the important thing is to take care of you- whatever your individual needs are.

      I also need to eat regularly and get up from my desk from time to time. I have to rely on reminders that up on my Outlook calendar to take breaks since my dogs are not with me at the office. :)

      I can also become too intensely focused on a result I want and forget to look up and be aware of the big picture. It’s great to take a quick inventory of my needs, my goals and my attitude. I certainly live a happier and healthier life when I focus my energy on what’s important to me.

      Thanks for your awesome comment, Adrienne! Have a most excellent day!


  6. Sometimes it can be very difficult to stop and take care of me!I think we have become a culture of rushing and multitasking to the point of making ourselves unhappy in life. I am thinking a massage should be part of this self care task!I really like the idea of letting your goals guide decisions. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for your comment, Melissa!

      I have to make it a priority to take care of me, and it was a difficult habit to create in my life. There are so many external requests, pressures and expectations it’s easy to pay more attention to whatever crisis is right in front of me and neglect checking in with me. I’m so much happier since I learned to make taking care of me a priority. It’s a challenge with an enormous payoff!

      Also, I strongly recommend regular massages! They are so good for the body and soul.

      Have a grateful day!


  7. Well, when life feels overwhelming, the best thing to do is reduce from you life everything that isn’t a priority now…that is one best way to decrease the stress…though,..situation always puts itself on the stands in such times…but we can at least try…

    • Thanks for your great comment!

      You’ve brought up a great point! I clean my house every week, but sometimes I can skip a week if I need some downtime and rest. My house doesn’t absolutely have to be cleaned once a week- that’s just my preference. It’s not really a priority to my health and well-being that it be every week.

      I volunteer with a teen group once a month and I have contacted other volunteers and asked someone to swap or fill-in for me if when I’ve had too much else going on, and in return I’ve filled in for other volunteers.

      In times of stress I can assess what I truly needs to be taken care of, and make alternative arrangements or put off something that isn’t truly important in that moment.

      Thanks again for your comment!


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